9:34 p.m. –Rod Woodson just talked about Baltimore and about Art Modell.
“Without Art Modell, old school owner. And I hope the voters get this right — by putting Art Modell in the Hall of Fame, he belongs there.”
With that came the usual cascade of classless “boos” from the Cleveland fans in Canton.
Woodson shook his head and responded visecerally:
“You can boo him because you disagree with him moving them but you can’t disagree with he did as an owner.”
He then said: “We had fun in Baltimore in 2000.” He thanked Marvin Lewis, Steve Bisciotti, Ray Lewis and Shannon Sharpe but left Brian Billick out of the speech.
This is my column from earlier in the evening:
9:05 p.m. — I sat down to the watch the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies tonight and really expected to be moved by great speeches made by great football players.
But before Rod Woodson even got a nanosecond of face time, I was watching Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson having the ultimate honor wearing the gold jacket and entering the hallowed halls of Canton. And as his family rose to his feet and Chris Berman “circled the wagons” it makes me sad and sick to think that Arthur B. Modell will never have a night like tonight, which he so richly deserves.
Wilson is talking about the AFL. He is talking about the legend of Lamar Hunt. He is talking about the merger. His is waxing on about Carroll Rosenbloom. He is talking about Buffalo and the players and the fans and the induction committee. He thanked the usual cast of thousands.
His speech just ended and he did not say the words “Art Modell” in a rambling 15-minute speech.
What a shame and what a cowardly act. Wilson, more than anyone, should’ve made a stand or statement regarding Modell’s significance to the NFL.
The sick truth: the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the NFL doesn’t really to see Modell inducted while he’s alive. They don’t really want to hear his name uttered anyone near the shrine.
The real truth: They wouldn’t want the trouble the Browns fans would bring 40 miles south to Canton and the bad blood. It’s sad, but this is the truth. That, and the biased small group of men and women who control this vote make a decision each February that has cheated Modell while rewarding his contemporaries like Al Davis, and tonight, Ralph Wilson.
In my opinion, both of those men deserve to be in the Hall of Fame because the story of the NFL couldn’t be written without them. But the same goes for Art Modell, who is now being held hostage in part because of the proximity to the Hall of Fame to Cleveland.
Modell is now 84 years of age. He doesn’t have a lot of time left. Last year, I went nuts distributing signs with a relatively luke-warm effect inside the stadium on the frigid night the Ravens beat the Redskins.
I don’t vote for Baltimore. Scott Garceau does.
It’s HIS responsibility to get Art’s name into the room and create a lobby for Modell. I’ve grabbed several of the voters myself and have implored them to ignore the internal “pressure” of Canton and do the right thing.
I’m not the only one. Washington Post editor Len Shapiro has also publicly stumped for Modell. Several other members of the cabinet are aligned with the reality of Modell’s achievements and contributions to the NFL.
We don’t harp on this issue because of mere sentimentality. I think it’s a pretty cut and dried case and the track record is well documented.
It’s insane that Modell isn’t in the Hall of Fame. It cheapens the entire institution in my opinion and I’m a football nut and true historian. (Not to mention the goofy fact that every Baltimore NFL record lives under a sign that says Indianapolis down the hallway!)
There is no legitimate case to keep Modell out of the Hall of Fame, especially when you consider that he truly birthed the NFL in TWO cities. He created a sound franchise brand in Cleveland over 35 years and left the city its dignity and legacy. He brought Baltimore back its civic identity and pride.
He should be rewarded for that. And any self-respecting Ravens fan should fight for Art Modell’s good name in Canton, Ohio.
I’ll keep this one brief tonight – because I’m emotional about this. I’ve also been reading John Steadman’s book “From Colts to Ravens” over the past two weeks and the stories and vivid images of our time without a team is a daily reality in my reading.
Art Modell should’ve been on that stage tonight next to Wilson.
The truth: the NFL doesn’t want Modell in the Hall.
Just think about the scene the Browns fans would create. They’d organize and do everything in their power to wreck the event.
I know it. The NFL knows it. The Browns fans know it.
And, I think that’s the real story.
And it’s very, very sad that politics are keeping a man like Modell out of the Hall of Fame.
Watching Ralph Wilson go into the Hall of Fame tonight only reminded me of how wrong it is that Art Modell might never live to see his summer night in Canton.